By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
This past weekend I was down with a mild case of what I euphemistically refer to as “Mexico Tummy.” I live in Central Mexico where those of us who are lucky enough to afford it drink bottled water and disinfect all of our fruits and veggies if we want to keep our digestive systems happy.
However, even if you follow all the recommended precautions, eventually “Mexico Tummy” will catch up with everyone… and it shows up in varying levels of severity.
Mine has never gotten too bad (knock wood!) and I think that’s due to my secret: Grapefruit Seed Extract.
When I first got down here I was shown a substance called ‘Microdyn’ which is what most people do their disinfecting with. I think it’s simply an iodine-based product, but the skull graphic on the bottle didn’t exactly endear me to the idea of soaking all my fruits and veggies in it!
Then someone told me they soak their veggies in grapefruit seed extract, and it was like—lightbulb!
This is the very stuff I recommend to friends and clients to carry with them on excursions to developing countries. And it certainly served me well several years ago when I traveled through Bali and Thailand.
The idea for the traveler is to take a few drops a day as a preventative deterrent to those little bugs that might show up in your food or water, leaving you with a mild to nasty case of dysentery, which in turn puts a real damper on your trip!
Well, it turns out grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is also the perfect natural solution for that produce disinfecting. I simply add 10-20 drops in a bowl or tub of purified water and soak the fruit and veggies for the recommended 20 minutes or so. I used to rinse them off, but I’ve found that the extract doesn’t even leave a taste residue—at least not one that bothers me.
But, I digress, most people reading this don’t live in Mexico and don’t have to worry about this.
The point is that GSE has become one of my top allies for handling this sort of stomach upset.
Whether it’s the stomach flu, food poisoning, or some unknown cause, when you are experiencing symptoms like diarrhea and nausea, a bottle of this simple extract is something you want to have in your medicine chest.
I also wouldn’t travel to any country where the drinking water might be sketchy without it! In fact, it has so many uses, I try to bring it along wherever I’m going.
What Exactly Is Grapefruit Seed Extract?
Well, it’s just what it sounds like—an extract made with the seeds of a grapefruit, as well as the pulp and white membranes. This is extracted into vegetable glycerine (or, unfortunately, sometimes less benign substances – more on that later) and made into a concentrate.
DON’T confuse grapefruit seed extract with another GSE, grape seed extract. This is an entirely different product, made with grapes, rather than grapefruit.
Grapefruit seeds contain a couple of important chemical compounds (polyphenols) called limonoids and naringenin. Apparently, these compounds act as antimicrobials AND antioxidants, so in addition to killing off bad microbes they protect your body’s tissues against the excessive production of reactive oxygen species which can occur when such pathogens infect the tissues.
While there have not been many scientific studies performed on humans on how grapefruit seed extract works, test tube studies have proven that it works as well as some prescription drugs for conditions such as fungal infections.
Natural health practitioners and many users (including me!) can testify to its efficacy for a number of different and persistent problems. Additionally, grapefruit grows in many areas, and peoples of various cultures throughout the world have used grapefruit seeds to cleanse the body of harmful organisms.
In fact, reviewing some of the research and testimonials on this has convinced me to get on a program of regular GSE usage (in small quantities.) Why wait for something to go wrong?!
Health Benefits of Grapefruit Seed Extract
I’d forgotten or didn’t even know about some of the numerous benefits of GSE—in addition to its pathogen-fighting properties when your stomach goes wonky. Check out some of these other reasons to keep a bottle on hand.
- Packed with Antioxidants.
As mentioned above it is a natural antioxidant, and today’s world of pollution, stressors and free radicals we can all use some antioxidant help!
- Can Protect Against Stomach Damage
This one is of particular interest to me as I deal on the regular with some odd stomach pain which may be connected to ulceration or damage.
It turns out that animal studies have shown this extract to protect the stomach from damage caused by alcohol and stress, and that it may protect the stomach from ulcers and other lesions by increasing blood flow to the area. (Don’t ask me how they did those studies. Got the animals drunk and then stressed them out?) I have to say I don’t like the idea of that animal tests… but I’m going to see if GSE could help out my damaged stomach!
- Antifungal Properties and even Fights Candida
Some natural health practitioners are including GSE in their protocol to combat Candida, which can cause a lot of debilitating symptoms for those with an overgrowth of this yeast.
Additionally, GSE has been shown to have some very strong anti-fungal properties and can be used externally on athlete’s foot and toenail fungus. Apply undiluted, but if this feels too strong, dilute it in a little bit of water.
- Can Treat UTIs
This was a new one on me, and one that I may try since unsweetened cranberry juice is basically nonexistent here in Mexico.
A 2005 study (with a small sample) found that GSE was effective in treating antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections. Study participants ate 5-6 grapefruit SEEDS every eight hours.
This one’s not a sure thing – but certainly worth a try in my book. Might even be worth choking down the seeds themselves.
- May Protect Against Heart Disease
This one is also based on animal studies which have shown that regular consumption of GSE significantly reduced sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Multiple Antimicrobial Uses
The antimicrobial properties of GSE makes it a great go-to in so many situations. Try it for:
–a throat gargle
–skin wound wash
–in the laundry – add 10-15 drops to the final rinse
–to naturally preserve homemade skincare products and cosmetics
–and of course, as the aforementioned fruit and veggie wash!
Where to Get It and How to Take It
You can find GSE in just about any natural foods store as well as online. It is available as a liquid extract, or in capsule form. I prefer to use the liquid form as it goes a lot further. But—it does have pretty strong, bitter flavor, so some people prefer capsules for internal use.
ALWAYS dilute GSE when taking it internally. Even if you are using it as a gargle or mouthwash, always dilute in water. This stuff is strong.
A typical recommended dosage is 10-12 drops in about 5 to 8 ounces of pure water, one to three times a day. I’m thinking that I will take less than that while using it as a preventative, maybe 5-6 drops in water once a day.
If you are going for the capsules, 100-200 milligrams, one to three times a day is recommended.
You’ll find that many companies make various products that use GSE as the main ingredient, such as mouthwashes, disinfectant sprays, throat gargles, etc. While this is certainly convenient, all you really need is the straight up grapefruit seed extract which is the basis of all these products.
Do be cautious to purchase GSE from a reputable supplier. Some companies use hazardous synthetic chemicals to extract it, and this will cause you more harm than good!
Never purchase GSE that contains ingredients such as methylparaben, benzethonium chloride or triclosan. I recommend finding one that contains only grapefruit seed extract and vegetable glycerine. My personal favorite is made by a company called Nutribiotic, and this brand is readily found everywhere.
Of course, the absolute safest and most natural way to get grapefruit seed extract is to consume the actual grapefruit. But you have to be sure to eat plenty of the seeds! And just know the plain seeds are extremely bitter!
Being the lazy wimp that I am, I find it easier to take a high-quality GSE extract.
Some Additional Cautions:
This stuff is strong! It can work wonders—but be smart. Here are some important things to consider before you run out to buy a bottle.
–Do not take GSE if you are pregnant, or breastfeeding (or check it with your healthcare Provider first.)
–Be aware that GSE can interfere or adversely interact with certain drugs you may be taking, particularly blood thinners. Discuss with your doctor before taking grapefruit seed extract.
–This is obvious – but if you have a history of being allergic to some supplements or medications, use caution or discuss with your Provider.
–Once again: Do not consume or put on sensitive areas undiluted, and never put in in your eyes! (another duh!)
I think you can see why a trusty little bottle of GSE could be your best friend if you are traveling—anywhere really. And you certainly won’t regret having it in your home medicine chest.
Sarah Grace Powers is a certified life coach and EFT Practitioner. She is a ‘dream resuscitator’, helping clients rediscover their passions and reinvent themselves no matter what their age or circumstance. In her previous career she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for over three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com
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